ON a balmy evening last week, Durham held firm to earn a draw against Lancashire as the first ever first class cricket game to be staged in Cumbria came to a close.

And as the players left the field, the general consensus was that the move to bring the game to Sedbergh School had been a successful one.

The small South Cumbrian town certainly hit the headlines, firstly as national newspaper journalists marvelled at the spectacular setting, and secondly as England ace Jimmy Anderson pulled up with an injury which threatens his hopes of playing a part in the forthcoming Ashes series.

But the more lasting memories will be of a fine game which adds to the traditions and history of the sport in the town.

And its a history which goes back a long way, back to September 1841 when the school’s cricket club was formed, playing its first game against Kirkby Lonsdale as the autumn leaves fell around the venue, a sports field opposite the Swan Inn at Middleton.

The current ground, which was completed in 1885 thanks to the largesse of William Wakefield of Sedgwick House, has been graced by many fine players through the years.

Norman ‘Mandy’ Mitchell-Innes is the only Sedbergh old boy to play Test cricket, making one appearance for England in 1935, but it has produced 18 other first class players.

The local government reorganisation of 1974 shifted the ground and town from Yorkshire to Cumbria, and it became a Minor Counties venue in 2006 when Cumberland CCC played their first game there.

When Lancashire announced earlier this year that they would head up to South Cumbria to play a County Championship game, it’s fair to say there was some surprise at the announcement.

Elements from the heartland of Lancashire’s support around Manchester and Liverpool expressed disquiet over the long journey they faced, and there were worries a ground more used to staging school games would cope.

As it happened, the fears were largely unjustified.

There were teething problems with ticketing, and an official supporters’ coach reportedly failed to gain access to the car park, delaying the fans’ arrival.

But as the dust settled on what proved to be an absorbing encounter on the field which, to the huge credit of groundsman Martin South, was played on a wicket of such good quality the match went the full four days, the overriding impression was of a job well done.

Attendances held up well, though inevitably declining on the final two days when attendees traditionally do not plan ahead in case the game concludes early, and the facilities proved up to the job.

And crucially, the weather was kind.

A dry spell in the days leading up to the fixture gave the ground a chance to dry out from the recent downpours, and barring one brief interruption, the rain held off for the entire four days.

So Anderson, England’s all time leading wicket taker, followed in the footsteps of Mitchell-Innes and generations of Sedbergh schoolboys, and as the cricket circus left and the small town resumed its normal quiet life, organisers could look back on a job well done.